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Gladeflower

Using 6 tokens each round rather than 5

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I played it once at 5 players, and missed the rule about keeping a single token between each round. This is an analysis of the difference and I want to discuss the variants with you all to see potential for a house rule for a better game design. 

This meant that each player bluffed at least once every round and it was very fun and dramatic. Also almost the entire pool was used for each player rather than having lots of the pool unused after the game, making it less about RNG luck and more about good bluffings. 
I was abit frustrated that there even was a single token left in the pool after the game since it was a raid or diplomacy token for some players that never saw light of action, the game was amazing but that feel was the worst for the session. The standard intended variant of the game must have 6 tokens left in the pool after a game, which could potentially all be the best tokens in the game, even the Clan specific one, must be boring to not be able to experience them during a full game.

Now that I see that players always keep a single token between rounds I cant see many scenarios where I would want to use a bluff token, carry over an army to next round is almost always wasted opportunity, one can always make use of armies, navies and everything to bolster and attack.
Saving a combat token to next round means that one does not use real power that might achieve progress, using the bluff token does not only deny power to one self this turn but even the next turn since one loses additional potential tokens, a token that might have been the best token over all.

Regarding Clan balance: 
Also Dragon Clan Ability to throw back a token into the pool can be used more interestingly when most tokens are drawn during a game, since there is such a risk to throw back a strong token if it might never be drawn again. Still I as Dragon Clan never used the ability in such a way, I always drafted for stronger tokens.

Lions Clan Ability seems to be way better when using all of the tokens each round. I dident notice the effect tho, maybe since Lion Clan fought all other players during my game, but all clans did the same and most ended up with a similar score.

6 token each round variant(30turns over 5 rounds):
Pros

-All Bluff tokens are used each round, adds lots of drama and excitement. 
-Less RNG and more skill based play. Most tokens will be drawn over 5 rounds, with only 1 remaining in the pool after 5 rounds, this remaining token might still be a Diplomacy or Raid which is unfortunate, still less unfortunate than if 6 tokens were remaining in the pool.
-Larger chance to experience your own Clan unique token when you play the game, brings more flavor to the game
-Dragon Clan can viably use its ability more interestingly, to draft away strong token back into the pool with a likely chance to draw it again later rounds.
Cons

-If tokens like Diplomacy or Raid is drawn it cannot be saved to later rounds, Its very likely they will have use every round since there are more tokens out as well each round. And this Con can be fixed with the option for a clan to be able to pass during placement, allowing a carry over as in a standard game. 
-Lion Clan seems to be way better off in this variant and might be OP.

5 tokens each round with 1 Carry over (original variant with 25 turns):
Pros

-If tokens like Diplomacy or Raid is drawn it can be saved to later rounds. 
Cons
-RNG, several tokens will never be drawn, if Diplomacy and Raid token is never drawn its very damaging and also less interesting choices. 1 or more unique Clan token are likely to never show up during the game, which are reasons one wants to try a certain clan.

-Dragon Clan should not use its ability to draft away strong token back into the pool, since several tokens will never be drawn at all. Best to draft for a better hand right in the moment.

Other
-The game will be shorter with 25 turns rather than 30, but that is neither a clear con nor a pro.
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Edited by Gladeflower

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I somewhat agree with using the 6 every round. A "problem" we had in one of our games was we all held on to diplomacy or raid tokens for use in last turn which made it the most exciting turn, but also kinda cancels everyone's hard work in previous turns. 

The Lion and Dragon would seem to have a clear advantage if using all 6 tokens each turn,  but something I noticed about Lion, they almost always use their bluff every round anyway. Don't know if that changes anything or not...

I will try this way next game and report back. 

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Thanks for the feedback.

I played again with the official rules and I never used my bluff. Which meant that only 1 token was left in the pool after the game as well. Which was an unused "Army 5", Still won tho.

The other players that played with me the first time liked the official rules as well at first impression, and new players to the game wanted to see the inofficiell variant as well when players use their bluff each round. What they liked specifically is  that one can carry over a token. But such can be made to be allowed in my first misplayed variant, for example by allowing players to pass their last turn, or many other solutions to it.

Edited by Gladeflower

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So I just got done playing with using all six tokens instead of five. Maybe I'll need to play more this way to be sure but it felt like the use of the bluff was more meaningful. You knew it was coming, but you didn't know where it was coming from.

The three clans used tonight were Crane, Scorpion, and I was Dragon (all determined randomly). 

I didn't really feel that getting to draw 6 tokens a turn and putting one back in the pool was an overpowering advantage. I usually tried to go for a balanced turn and either put one of my strongest tokens back or a middling one to save for a later round. I came in 2nd place with a 7 point difference. Poor Scorpion had a really bad last round and pretty much lost control of any territory he had before that.

With the Crane you never knew if it was a diplomacy or a bluff.Scorpion- a shinobi or a bluff. One time I even put a blessing on my bluff to draw out a capital defense so my opponent would ignore what I was doing on the other side of the board. 

With the use of the first player card (at least in a 3 player game), and the Unicorn’s "Reinforcements" territory card we still had tokens left in our pools. Scorpion had 6 still, but it is possible he received alot more focus from the first player card. He always seemed more of a threat since he had the "free" scout each round. 

Well, I hope I have provided some incite into how the game went. It wasn't hands down "I gotta play this way every time now!" But it probably was our most interesting game to date...

Also of note, I should mention we received our secret objectives after placement of initial control markers as well. And we didn't choose out of 2, it was just a straight up deal one to each player. Felt more like we were generals trying to carry out our daimyo's secret mission. Definitely upped the tension of conflict with that change. 

Edited by HirumaShigure
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Thanks for the feedback. Lovely to see it being tried.

Have played yet again with using all 6 tokens each round. 
The fact that so many bluffs are out there makes the game very fun for us all.

I have thought much about any more design problems with this variant but cant really see more than those listed above, and generally more clan unique abilities than dragon and lion will change very slightly in power.
Scorpion clan is weaker since its scout ability will often look at bluffs, and unicorn is slightly stronger since it can swap its bluff with anything.

 

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A tactic I often employ but has yet to be picked up on is placing my bluff token first so that it sits there the entire round working on my opponent's mind, making them just wonder what is under that token. Also of note, my play group has switched to using six tokens a round (to include the bluff) every game. We like the bluff too much and have seen it used to devastating effect too often to not use it. We have played Battle for Rokugan A LOT in the past 2 weeks so we usually come up with some new variation to a rule each time we play. I would not say the replay value is low at all but we're already in need of some new content. 

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